President Donald Trump sided with congressional Democrats on a deal to package:
- Hurricane Harvey relief
- a three-month debt limit increase
- a three-month continuing resolution to keep the government funded.
The bundle was supported by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while opposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“Both sides have every intention of avoiding default in December and look forward to working together on the many issues before us,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement. “As Democratic leaders, we also made it clear that we strongly believe the DREAM Act must come to the floor and pass as soon as possible and we will not rest until we get this done.”
Republicans though struck a less sanguine tone. The president rejected the proposals of Republican congressional leadership and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.
What was the point of contention: According to accounts by various White House sources, the main deadlock was over the length of time to extend the debt ceiling.
Schumer and Pelosi advocated for a three-month extension, a proposal that was derided by Ryan earlier in the day as “ridiculous” and “unworkable.”
Republicans wanted a longer extension to avoid a subsequent battle in December. The initially proposed an 18-month extension before offering a compromise of six-months.
Amidst the disagreement, the president then reportedly interjected and accepted the Democratic three-month proposal.
Republicans were dismayed by a seemingly one-sided deal. The GOP fear is that the short-term deal provides the Democratic Party with leverage to attach a provision to codify DACA in December.
And Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) quipped “A three-month debt ceiling? Why not do a daily debt ceiling?”
The president’s surprise deal with “Chuck and Nancy” as he later referred to them on Air Force One, sets up a brutal year-end fiscal cliff in which Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling, negotiate a trillion-dollar spending bill, and potentially address immigration.